Perry Twins post high energy Houston tribute

While we may continue to honor Whitney Houston’s legacy, I think it’s fair to say we could be a little Whitney-ed out by the constant playing of her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” in every tribute since last week’s tragic news. Heck, even Aretha couldn’t come up with another idea at her Radio City Music Hall concert Saturday night. But this just came on my radar. The Perry Twins, who performed at Station 4 in 2009, offer their tribute to the singer with this hour-long mix of deep cuts and big hits. It’s a welcome reprieve from the overuse of ballads used to remember her by, but also a reminder of her contribution to the dance floor. She was the Queen of the Night, remember?

—  Rich Lopez

LISTEN: Of Montreal’s “Dour Percentage”

Following up their music counterparts Scissor Sisters, Of Montreal drops a peek of its new album Paralytic Streaks which is slated for an early February release. Pitchfork posted the preview song “Dour Percentage” and linked to an interview with singer (and sexually liberated) Kevin Barnes about the album.

The band also hits the road this year coming to Dallas to play at Trees on March. 13.

Spin analyzed the hell out of the song here, but I thought it was an admirable effort. I don’t see too much of a difference as Spin does save for a lack of high energy punch, but it has that certain motif OM is famous for.

of Montreal – “Dour Percentage” by Some Kind of Awesome

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Scissor Sisters’ “Shady Love”

The queer-centric Scissor Sisters are back on the radar with their new single “Shady Love.” Dropped on the Interwebs yesterday, the SS is making buzz with its video of kiddos awkwardly performing the romp of a song for their school play in front of an indifferent crowd of parents. The song is OK as Krystal Pepsi (aka Azealia Banks) throws in her vocal help and frontman Jake Shears raps over some high energy beats, but watching kids “sing” about Obama, booties and boobies is kind of hilar.

Watch it after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: CSS’ ‘City Grrrl’

First of all, I swear I don’t have a boner for the queer-based Brazilians CSS, despite my seemingly numerous posts about the band. They just keep touring this way and dropping good stuff I think you should know about. They continue with this uber-brill video for “City Grrrl” from this year’s release La Liberacion. The video is just a lot of fun with high energy and cool visuals. And it’s the kind of song you just have to blare out your stereo. Trust.

—  Rich Lopez

Indie, airy

Self-releases from Dallas’ Brandon Hilton, Laura Ainsworth, others show indies in a post-iTunes age

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Nocturnal
Brandon Hilton
Two and a half stars
Followers love him; others love to hate, but Dallas-born Brandon Hilton backs up his faux-lebrity with some surprises in his second CD, Nocturnal. Although it’s not a concept album, Hilton keeps a proper tone befitting the title. The songs are dark, sometimes seedy, keeping true to his vision.

“Heartbeat” and “Heartbreaker” are catchy enough not to skip. Recalling ’80s New Wave sound, he has the earnestness of a modern Limahl from Kajagoogoo. (An obscure reference, maybe, but trust me.)

The beat kicks in on “Shadow,” but is completely overproduced and Hilton’s delivery is uninspired. Yet the track is the liveliest and sticks out above many of the other 14 tracks. The same is true with “So Ready,” though he feels more present here. The song has a silliness hovering with lyrics like your kiss is like a total eclipse / taking over my body/ makes me feel so naughty.

Despite those higher moments, the album misses marks on production and writing. The title track should have more impact, but is a key example of how the rest plays out. Hilton straddles a line between singing and talking and comes off lazy. He seems like he’s trying to skate by rather than let loose.

“Photoshop Friendship” and “Glamour Zombie” have nice ideas behind them with content, but despite pseudo high-energy beats, the songs drone. Hilton needs to work on not just building  his songwriting, but painting the right picture musically to go with the words.

Production values are all but absent. What could have been a decent track, “Need Your Love,” suffers by putting Hilton’s voice slightly under the music levels. I don’t hear what he’s singing — a mistake that is really only forgivable on a debut.

Hilton has some ways to go before superstardom, but I am admittedly surprised by what he has in his back pocket in Nocturnal.

music-1
ARIEL VIEW | Singer Ariel Aparacio drops an inspired collection of rocker tunes in his album ‘Aerials.’

Aerials
Ariel Aparicio
Three and a half stars
Recent OutMusic award winner Ariel Aparicio has opted to release Aerials on CD in August, following up positive response to his digital download album that dropped in March. A wise decision: Aerials wins with a lot of heart and clear talent and the more people know about it, the better.music-3

A minute-long intro immediately takes the listener on a ride as he ventures into the U2-ish “Love Left Bleeding.” Aparicio can rock but with beautiful sophistication — he’s not trying to blow our ears out. The attention to detail on the guitars here tickles them instead.

The gentleness in “Flowers” mixes a bit of Paul Simon and The Doors into his sound, but doesn’t suffer by losing to it. He brings in his own ethereal quality with his mysterious, raspy voice and floating backgrounds.

He displays his Latin roots on “Amor Sangrando” which isn’t his highest moment here. Although it doesn’t feel forced (“Look at me singing in Spanish!”), it’s ill-constructed. The music works, but his lyrics don’t seem to fit and as a closer, it plays as a gimmick.
But the album succeeds on many levels. Aerials isn’t just an album, it’s a book of songs that had me longing for the next track.

Keep it to Yourself
Laura Ainsworth
Three stars
Not so much queer as queer-based, Dallas’ Laura Ainsworth provides lush music-4material for any drag queen. Her jazzy cabaret collection in Keep it to Yourself is a little kooky at times, but a unique gem by the local cabaret performer.
The title track opens and immediately transports us to a posh dinner and dancing club with fancy-dressed women and men with cigars. Ainsworth and band play gorgeously together creating a charming, classic sound that would fit in any ’50s film with that club scene. I expected Rosemary Clooney or Bing Crosby to appear somewhere.
Props to producer Brian Piper and mixer Kent Stump for tying up package that gives due respect to Ainsworth’s voice while never faltering on the instruments, either. The horns are crisp and each drumbeat or guitar pluck is as obvious as it is subtle.
But Ainsworth is clearly the star. What she does with Johnny Mercer’s “Skylark” and Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” is magic. She gets a little derailed with obvious tracks “La Vie En Rose” and “Personality,” but it lends to a whimsical charm rather than detracting from the overall feel.
With Ainsworth’s flair for the dramatic and a sexy, sultry voice, if I don’t hear any of these tracks in any of the umpteen pageants coming up, I may just have to do one myself.
Not.

Blue Songs
Hercules & Love Affair
Moshi Moshi
One star

IN A BLUE MOOD | Hercules and Love Affair fall big time with sophomore album ‘Blue Songs.’ Even queer singer and Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke couldn’t save the day with his guest appearance.

The one signed band in this round-up, Hercules & Love Affair, not only dropped the ball with their second release Blue Songs, they weren’t even looking at it. Songs is such a disappointment compared to their impressive 2008 self-titled debut. This is a collection of dancey tracks intended for the dollar bin at used CD stores.

After the smash of “Blind,” with its muscular beat counterbalanced by Antony Hegarty’s delicate voice, my hopes were high for what H&LA’s mastermind Andy Butler would deliver here. But instead of going forward, he looked way back to all the wrong inspirations. The first single, “My House,” sounds like the bastard baby of LCD Soundsystem and Technotronic as told through the talent of a teenager. With dated samples music-5and rejected house beats, it’s simply sad.

Kim Ann Foxman’s vocals add nothing with a phoned-in performance of dullness. Even with guest vocals by Mark Pistel of Meat Beat Manifesto and gay singer Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, nothing is saved.

“Step Up” starts with a strong beat, but
Okereke’s usually sexy voice is lost on ridiculous lyrics and a repeated backing track. As if just pressing the play button, the song only frustrates.

This is repeated throughout the 14 tracks. The expired sound of Blue Songs brought nothing back from the glorious house music of a few decades back, but instead it just irks with its abundance of mediocrity.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pet of the Week: Paris

Pet-ParisParis is a classic brown tabby with big gold-green eyes. She’s a little over 1 year old and was found as a stray. Paris is friendly, feisty and full of fun. She’s a high-energy kitty who’s curious, lively and very playful.

Paris and many other dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are available for adoption from Dallas Animal Services, 1818 N. Westmoreland at I-30, just minutes west of Downtown Dallas. The shelter is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and Sundays noon-5 p.m. The cost to adopt is $85 for dogs and $55 for cats and includes spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchip and more. All dogs are negative for heartworms, and cats have been tested for FeLV and FIV.  For more information, visit DallasAnimalServices.org or call 214-671-0249.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Big Freedia at The Loft on Saturday

Walking into The Loft at a little after 11 p.m., I was stunned how empty the place was. With the DJ at full throttle onstage playing some nice high-energy hip-hop, I had high hopes that Big Freedia had more of a following outside New Orleans. The crowd dug the DJ and bounced to the tunes and it was pretty much just a night at a dance club. Before Freedia was about to go on, the place began to fill up. Although I’m not sure all were totally Freedia fans, it was definitely a hip-hop crowd.

The gay contingent was hard to decipher. I loved how JW Richard of the new Groove Loves Melody music blog described some of the hard-to-read peeps as “undercover candy.” So true. But otherwise, a mixture of gay and straight, white, black, Latino, old and young — although definitely more young.

With just a handful of songs, Freedia threw down one pretty sweet party. Despite the fans being outnumbered by non-fans (because fans knew the words and responses),  his music is infectious and the crowd didn’t care about his frankness of being the Queen Diva of Bounce (they applauded, actually) among other things. Freedia had energy to spare and worked his dancehall calls to no end. But really, I learned a Freedia show is about that ass shaking and when the boys were besting the girls up there, it was a sight to behold. Some of the straight peeps had the “what the hell?” look, while everyone just went with the party flow and whooped and hollered.

It’s funny, because there wasn’t anything overly spectacular about the show. Freedia showed up, rapped, dance and that was it. But it was him and his music’s pumped up vibe that just flung its energy across the small venue and everyone caught it. I would dare to say that he probably won a few new fans that night who, like me, had no idea what to expect.

Here’s a glimpse of the show.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Tuesday night’s performance by Of Montreal at the Granada Theater

It looks like Kevin Barnes and company didn’t disappoint with high energy and psychedelics at their concert on Tuesday. The band’s innovation shone in their “satellite broadcast” of “Casualty of You,” but Barnes’ rambling about aliens, homosexuals and hamburgers before diving into “Before Our Elegant Caste” probably made more sense if you were there. Even if it didn’t, who cares? The night looked like a usual OM show — which tends to be consistently kick-ass.

—  Rich Lopez